Aug 21 2007
11:05 am

It is time for many high school graduates to enter college. For those of you who entered college full-time right out of high school, what advice can you provide? For those of you who attended college in a non-tradtional manner, what advice can you provide?

Ben Stein has some advice of his own, of which some I agree and some I do not.

* make friends with your teachers
* do your papers neatly, according to the assignment, and on time
* Take courses that will be of genuine use to your mind

Tips from me, a non-traditional student:

* Don't get into big debt unless you have some idea that you can pay it back (high paying career, inheritance, etc.)

* Try to make friends, join clubs/study groups, etc. (Similar to Stein's tip without the fraternity/sorority.)

* Keep in touch with family and friends from home, at least until you are comfortable in college.

* Don't try to keep up with the "Jones", you'll have plenty of time for that after college.

* Take some courses you want to take, not just what is required for graduation.

H/T Instapundit

cdthomas23's picture

Here's a Few

Here's a few I can think of off the top of my head

* Attend class - always. Just because you don't have to doesn't mean you shouldn't. Believe me, it will help you learn and also when if you are borderline with 2 grades, the teacher generally will help out the person that was always there.
* In addition to this, get to class on time/early
* Participate in class without being annoying (aka teacher's pet). This goes back to the making friends with your teachers. Also, don't ask the same questions somebody else just asked
* Get involved in campus organizations, especially if you aren't a member of an athletic team, fraternity, or sorority
* Don't go home every weekend. In fact, try to limit your visits home to holidays and school breaks. It will make getting acclimated to being away from home easier.
* Go to the gym, play a sport, do athletics. It will keep you in shape and also provides another way to make friends (partially taken from Stein's list but worth mentioning).
* Live on campus and eat in the dorm; especially your first couple years. This keeps you from having to cook or run to McDonald's all the time. Living on campus also provides another group to make friends from.

Craig Thomas

Mello's picture

The only advice we gave our

The only advice we gave our 16 year old son who is starting dual enrollment classes-

DO NOT wear your Richard Dawkins shirt the first day. Or perhaps ever while we are still in Tennessee.

Mykhailo's picture

Off the top of my head:*

Off the top of my head:

* Dorms suck. They're full of incredibly annoying assholes, and it's hard to get any work done with all the distraction and noise. But at 18, you're probably not ready to live completely on your own. If you go to school in your hometown, suck it up and live with your parents for a semester or two -- your schoolwork will be much better. Then, live in an apartment in a student neighborhood. That's a huge key to having a good time in college.

* Don't join a fraternity, at least not the kind that there are at UT. Spend your free time with people who are full of love for learning instead of with Finance majors whose only goal in life is to drink heavily and someday hopefully get a high paying job.

* Spend as long as an undergraduate as you and your parents can afford. It's a cliche, but it's really true that it will be the best time of your life, and 4 years is way too short. Shoot for 5 1/2 years if possible.

* In that extra year and half, take as many graduate courses as possible. And take plenty of upper level classes outside your major department, but in a related field -- if you're majoring in ecology, take geography and geology classes; if you're majoring in computer science, take computer engineering and EE classes, etc. Being well rounded will pay off big when starting your career.

* Imbed yourself as much as possible into the life of your department. Make friends with graduate students. Go to their parties. Drink beer with professors. Go to departmental seminars. You'll learn vastly more about how research in your field really works from these sorts of social interactions than you will from coursework.

* Start an undergraduate <your major> club. Have professors, graduate students, and other people working in your field give lectures every couple of weeks about their research or their work. This is another great way to learn a little bit about a lot of stuff, and it will look pretty good on your resume. Also, have the group do social stuff, like weekend hikes or volunteer projects.

* Find interesting jobs while in school. There are lots of professors who need slave labor, it's easy to talk them into hiring you to do real, worthwhile, interesting and valuable work for them, so take full advantage of it.

Andy Axel's picture

Some of mine...

* Advisors and professors have office hours for a reason. Take advantage. (My ethics prof held his Friday office hours at the local microbrewery. Bonus!)

* If you're typically a shirker, you may have to apply yourself for the first couple of years until you discover the rhythms.

* I'm not so sure about the "everyday" attendance thing if you're in a core requirements class and have decent mastery of the material at hand. (Especially for 100 - 200 level courses.) My high school didn't offer CLEP/AP and attending every day of Algebra 101 would have been a complete waste of time. However, if you learn best by listening, go to the classes and skimp on the textbook assignments. It is seldom that a lecture-type class will cover material not covered in lecture; I found that the textbooks were a colossal waste of money.

* Notetaking is an essential skill, but it's worthless if you're not good at critical listening.

* Take no fewer than 15 credit hours a semester.

* Show up early for open registration.

* Participation is a good thing.

* If you're offered a summer internship opportunity, take it.

* If you don't know the material the night before an exam, there comes a point where you have to concede that you don't know what you don't know. Sleep is critical. Get some.

* There is no liberal conspiracy to take over the universities.

* If you're uncertain about continuing academic study, take time off between undergrad and grad school. Burnout can take a heavy toll.

* A declared major isn't a prison sentence. Take your time declaring. You typically have until your junior year.

* Work-study is, in point of fact, a decent option.

* There is no shame in withdrawal or incompletion. Be aware of the deadlines for W's and don't leave those I's hanging, though.

* You may not get a job in your major field of study.

(I completed my BA with distinction - 3.64 cumulative/3.70 in major - in 8 semesters, including a summer internship. I passed my GREs and was accepted into a Masters of Urban Planning program but took a pass. I didn't get a job anywhere near my major field of study.)


I'm a guy in a Reagan mask -- and I'm running for President!

R. Neal's picture

* Don't go until you're

* Don't go until you're ready
* Don't give up once you start
* Put down the bong

Rachel's picture

My most important piece of

My most important piece of advice - live on campus or close by and immerse yourself in college life. There's tons more to learn from the experience than just what you learn in class.

And I'm speaking as someone who was always a really good student, in the sense of taking classes seriously, doing my homework, etc. But I really think I learned more outside of class.

P.S. Take courses in subjects you're interested in even if they don't relate to your major. I regret to this day never having had an art history class.

Pam Strickland's picture

So, I take a break from

So, I take a break from preparing for a new "how to do good in college" course that I'm teaching for students in a community college who did poorly on the ACT, and this is what I find.

I've been teaching in some form or another for 10 years, most of it first-year writing but also some journalism, here's a shot at it:

*Yes, go to class. What I have learned, is that in many cases students either slid through in high school or, if they went to some schools in ET, they weren't taught. If you know the materials, it also means less time studying so you can socialize.

*Be curious. Don't just go through the motions on anything.

*If you don't already have critical thinking skills, develop them, they are what will get you through school and be your survival skills in the work place.

*Staying up all night to study (or party) the night before an exam or a paper is due is detrimental to your success. If you've kept up along the way, do a review for the text or polish the paper and then get some sleep.

*Eat a healthy breakfast -- low-fat protein, whole grains, fruit - avoid too much sugar and most anything in a rattly bag. It helps you think. Same with lunch.

*I like the imbed in your department idea, but even better talk to people who do jobs you think you might be interested in. Find out what's really involved. I routinely have students talk to people who do their dream job to see what kind and how much writing is involved. It really opens theirs eyes sometimes.

Don't want to duplicate -- there are a lot of good suggestions here -- so I'll stop.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Hoseman19's picture

Most importantly

#1 rule concerning your college career - Finish!

Up Goose Creek's picture


Amen to that, brother.

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, bribed me to graduate.

Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

talidapali's picture

My 2 Cents...

*Don't drink alcohol. Ever.

If you start college right out of high school you probably won't be of legal drinking age until you are a junior or senior anyway. Large drinking binges and early class times are mutually exclusive. You might THINK you can handle going to class with a hangover, but you cannot. And you absolutely cannot do your best work when you are drunk, sobering up, or dealing with a hangover.

If you are in college to party and drink, drop out now, go get a minimum wage job and do your drinking; 'cause that's where you'll be five years from now anyway. (Unless your parents are incredibly well-connected.)

"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

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